DARK LIES THE ISLAND by Kevin Barry

DARK LIES THE ISLAND

Stories

KIRKUS REVIEW

In his latest, Irish author Barry (City of Bohane, 2011, etc.) offers 10 pieces of literary fiction.

A postmodern lens reflects youthful ineptness in "Across the Rooftops." In "Wifey Redux," perhaps the collection’s best story, Saoirse, "blonde and wispily slight with a delicate, bone-china complexion," marries, births Ellie and turns to Pinot Grigio, while her dutiful husband becomes consumed by their daughter's beauty and her sex-obsessed suitors. A blocked poet turned innkeeper herds horny Belarus staff and droning, alcoholic locals in "Fjord of Killary" until, epiphany-flooded, "I felt a new, quiet ecstasy take hold. The gloom of youth had at last lifted." In "A Cruelty," a boy/man/child, autistic perhaps, time-obsessed, fixated on lunch-pack Chocolate Goldgrains, is accosted by a bully, perhaps a rapist, certainly "hyena," his safely circumscribed world forever fractured. Later, a sad group of ale fanciers makes a humorous and melancholy "Beer Trip to Llandudno." Irish lyricism shines throughout the collection. "Ernestine and Kit" opens so—"the world was fat on the blood of summer"—but relates a tale as black as a witch’s heart. A kitchen steward, "black mass of backcombed hair and a graveyard pallor," fumbles into a double-dealing bombing plot in "The Mainland Campaign." A broken lover laments in "Wistful England," and Jameson whiskey–loving "Doctor Sot" finds drunken perceptions reflected by psychotic Mag, a traveler. An on-the-run drug dealer confronts the devil, twisted overseer of two sisters, eight wild children and chained feral dogs in "The Girls and the Dogs." A rattletrap "White Hitachi" van is home to Patrick, incompetent thief, intent upon saving his brother from "Castlerea prison, or the secure ward at the madhouse (many a Mullaney had bothered the same walls)." The title story is penultimate, a young artist, a cutter, from a fractured family seeks west Ireland solace. "Berlin Arkonaplatz—My Lesbian Summer" concludes the collection, Irish writer Patrick entrapped and enlightened by bohemian Silvija, "beautiful, foul-mouthed and inviolate."

Winner of the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, Barry writes stories that are character-driven, archetypical yet magnetic, pushing toward realism’s edge where genre becomes irrelevant.

Pub Date: Sept. 24th, 2013
ISBN: 978-1-55597-651-4
Page count: 192pp
Publisher: Graywolf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1st, 2013




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